Run ‘n Gun Music Video

Abi Moore

Well, normally one wouldn’t promote this sort of thing. After all, it takes quite some time and planning to do a music video…

But, as Abi Moore remarked, ‘if you want something done fast, ask a busy person”.

I’m not always this busy, but in the week before a trip planned to the US, I found myself with 3 scheduled shoots and one edit that absolutely had to be done before I left.

Then Abi messaged me urgently.

She needed a music video by the end of the month (when I would be gone).

She had sent me the song. A very nice song, though a sad Christmas song as it were.

I asked for the lyrics, got them, glanced it over and said, ” Come on over tomorrow. We’ll shoot you singing the whole song whilst driving a few times and then some more at our neighbor’s Steinway piano, a few additional shots in town, throw something together and see if we need anything else to polish it off.

So we did just that one evening.

For the night scenes I used the Sony HXR NX30. All hand-held, of course, though I utilised a bean bag on the car’s dash for most of the car shots.

For the piano scenes I used the NX30 and the X70; X70 on a tripod and the NX30 handheld.

And, for the first time ever, I found it necessary to add stars to a shot using an FCPX generator and FCPX color controls and shape masks to take down the white sky to a darker gray.

Also, for the first time ever, I added snow to a shot, using the Pixelfilmstudios plug-in. Two layers of snow–the foreground layer to which I added yellow as if lit by the foreground yellow light from the doorway. That was surprisingly easy.

Who says you can’t produce a music video in a couple of days cheap as chips?

You’ll be the first to see it as I’m only publishing it here.

(Best to watch in full HD, as it’s a rather sad–and therefore somewhat dark Christmas story.)


About That Extreme Run ‘n Gun Wedding…

It occurred to me I never came back and showed anything of that extreme  run and gun wedding I shot.

This is the one where the videographer didn’t show up and I was asked if I could go shoot the wedding which was already IN PROGRESS.

Anyway, I covered that a bit in the linked post above.

I haven’t posted much lately as I’ve been in France working on a personal project.

Anyway, that wedding is all done and delivered and the bride was more than pleased with the result.

It was a 2 hour edit as they requested the entire Hindu ceremony be covered and all the speeches.

This was the highlight video I also gave them. It’s only a couple of minutes but gives you an idea that it is possible to pull off even the worst scenario if you know and apply the basics discussed in my ebook Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide.

Out of Thin Air

Belvoir Castle, on which estate I live, has been the subject of a 2 year project to bring into being the recently found 200 year old plans of Capability Brown, probably the most famous landscape architect in England. In the last year a TV program has been in the making which airs its first of 3 parts tonight.

Quite aside from all that, Belvoir Castle has become a world-class shooting estate with people coming the world over to shoot here during the season. It has been being run by Phill Burtt, the David Beckham of the shooting world.

It was decided just a few days ago that a Belvoir Shoot video should be done and gotten onto the Guns and Pegs website, the largest shooting related website in the world for both those seeking venues and those looking for them. This was to coincide with the airing of the Capability Brown program.

Luckily I had some footage shot last year to add to the mix.

It turns out now that this is my favorite marketing video to date– shot completely off-the-cuff, mainly with the Sony PXW X70 and some NX30 footage.

It’s a long and interesting story that I may detail in an update of Run and Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide, but for now, just a couple of notes.

  1. I probably take the ‘don’t use tripods much’ to an extreme. The only tripod shot in the video was the Phil Burtt interview. But look closely at the opening and ending shots of Belvoir Castle with the titles. I amazed even myself, because, believe it or not, that was hand-held standing a mile away from the castle.
  2. Notice the echo in the Duchess interview. I actually recorded it with two mics, one lapel (rather sloppily attached I note) and one rifle. It is a real echoey room to begin with. The rifle picked up too much echo so I didn’t use it. The lapel picked up none. So I mixed the lapel and then added echo from the FCPX audio effects–ironic, because I’m usually trying to get rid of it. In this case, it sounded really dumb without echo.

Anyway, I’ll leave it at that for now.

You Americans might not understand what you’re looking at. It’s just the time-honored tradition of English shooting, right on down to wearing the right outfit, with breaks for champagne and sloe gin, bacon or sausage sandwiches, ending up with drinks and a dinner.



Getting Marketing Mileage out of Seminar, Workshop or Training Video

I recently covered a 90 minute seminar by a Lettings Specialist who has come up with an innovative, sensible and effective approach to get landlords to switch lettings agents. It’s all rather obtuse unless you’re in that industry, but in short lettings agents want more and more properties to manage and properties are owned by landlords. Landlords presumably (unless they’re brand new) already have agents representing their properties. So why change? You have a bank. Can you be bothered to change banks if another comes along touting their services? No. –and that’s the conundrum all lettings agents face.

Anyway it was a fascinating seminar. I covered the whole thing with two cameras, one locked off and one hand-held. I then broke it down into 9 parts which the client will release one by one.

I knew he wanted at least one testimonial video in addition to the whole series, but I saw the potential to produce a couple more ‘teaser’ videos to promote the series in addition to the testimonials video.

This is an example of taking some interesting bits out of a long seminar–or similar event–and producing a video that can be used to promote it. It’s short enough to watch ( a 9 or 10 minute video might put one off in terms of time), and if it contains the ‘go buttons’ (the sort of thing that the guy is interested in), he’ll then want to watch the series.

The main point is, it’s really easy and fast to put together and is a great marketing tool for the client. In this case, it was more than he asked for (I did a couple of these covering different aspects of the seminar in addition to the one he asked for–which was a video with testimonials). In all I gave him 3 different videos to promote his seminar series instead of 1. And I didn’t fleece him either. In fact, having done work with him before, he was so impressed with the result and confident in me, he didn’t even ask for a quote for the job. He knew I’d be fair and would produce a good result. In return, I always give him better value for the money–all of which leads to certain repeat business.

Anyway, here’s one of the ‘teaser videos’ I pulled from the material  followed by the testimonial one–both of which achieve the same purpose.

Even if you’re not in this industry, I think you’ll see that these would effectively interest someone who was to watch the video series being referred to.

( I just checked–he’s released the first 4 videos over the last 3 weeks with 1000 views so far.  That’s better than a kick up the bum.)

More Bang for the Buck

I thought I had covered this in the book Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide, but on quick review, it appears that I didn’t.

So here we go.

If you’ve read the book, you know how I go about shooting corporate videos. In short, I do an extensive interview or interviews with the relevant people and then I shoot a lot of B roll of their business. A lot. Then, as a result of being thoroughly indoctrinated into the business (by reason of the interviews–which are usually with the Managing Director, other executives and sometimes staff), I edit the interviews down to a final length of about 3 minutes to forward the marketing message in the best way possible and then cover up the dozens of edits with relevant B roll. The ‘script’ is created from the narrative.

Producing Multiple Videos For Different Purposes (from the same content)

Anyway, in most cases it is quite possible to create multiple videos from the material obtained on a one or two day shoot. They don’t always ask for it, but I always point out that this can be done because I make sure to obtain adequate footage during the shoot day(s) to facilitate multiple videos. I’d do it anyway, because it’s always good to have lots of B roll to choose from, but of course, not all of it will get used.

Probably half the time they think this is a good idea. They’re already spending the money, and it won’t be that much more to get multiple videos for different purposes out of the spend. And that’s good because it can double your income or more, depending on how much they want and what you can do. They’re essentially paying for additional editing time–and frankly, after the initial editing process, the creation of further videos goes much faster as much of the basic work has already been done.

Case in point and the reason for this post…

I recently posted a sample video from a shoot where I said 11 videos were produced. The purpose of that post was to give an example of the interview -style approach I just mentioned above. But this was also an example of the client realising the benefit of obtaining additional video content from the paid shoot days.

I did three different kinds of videos for this client.

1) From his interview I created several different narrative-driven videos about specific top selling products.

2) We created several more videos that were simple demos of these products.

3) I then created an ‘overall’ video for his Home Page or About US page which used music and graphics to get across all the things that they do.

As a note, for the first two types of video I created a template to massively speed up the editing process. When done with one edit, I could simply copy-paste it into a new project, change out the narrative bits, change the wording of the title or graphics, adjust a few shots if necessary and adjust the music to the length of the new video. Also, each of the narrative versions had the same ending (where he talks about branding and ‘UK made’). This is because those different products would never really be seen by the same audience. People will tend to watch the product they are looking for and won’t know several other videos have the same ending. And if they did watch other product videos, so what?

It might be a bit tedious, but I’m going to string all the videos out below. You don’t have to watch them all, but it might be of interest to watch a few to see what I mean about creating a template.

As a note, all 11 edits were approved as submitted with no changes required.

The ‘Interview-driven’ series


The ‘Product Demo’ series


The ‘Overall’ graphics/music driven summary of the business

Promising new wireless system from Rode

The Rode Wireless Filmmaker System

I’m often asked to recommend a wireless system.   The good ones are rather expensive (eg. Sennheiser).

I happen to use a Sony system that I got second-hand which works just fine.

But something new just turned up in my in basket. I don’t own it and haven’t tested it. But by all accounts it’s the bees knees. It’s a new level of high tech and easy to use. It’s also affordable (under £300).

Watch the video.

Frankenstein Cameras


It was one of the Video Whisperer blog followers who either coined the term ‘Frankenstein cameras” or passed it onto me.

I liked it.

I’ve used some pretty audacious frankenstein rigs in the movie business, but that was back in the film days. Nowadays they’re producing ‘films’ with hi end video cameras. And that’s a pretty exacting art form.

In the context of run and gun videography, however,  it’s an oxymoron.

I’m writing this hopefully for the benefit of those who are relatively new to the field so they don’t think they need to run off and buy all that stuff to shoot professional video–be it corporate work or weddings, documentaries, short films or whatever.

These days the technology they can pack into small cameras boggles the mind. My first contact with big technology in a small camera was with the Sony HXR NX30—and that’s a really small camera. I was so enthusiastic that I did my first ever video review on that camera. Within 5 months it was the top review on Google—and my review came out more than a year after the camera was released. It remains the number one search result for reviews on the NX30 to this day.

The next camera I reviewed with similar verve for similar reasons was the Sony PXW X70. This time my review came out 3 months after the first reviews, but within 2 months it was number one and also remains so to this day.

By the way, this is not to say that there aren’t other cameras that have comparable—or perhaps even better—characteristics, but I just happen to own these two and they suited me to a ’t’.  I had enough of big cameras, tripods, matte boxes, zoom controllers, follow focus rigs and all the rest of it.

Why did I like these two cameras so much?

I was looking for a camera that was small, smart, light and could do all I wanted it to with very little effort or attention on my part.  I wanted to keep my own attention outward. I also didn’t want to have to lug a bunch of stuff  around. Been there, done that. Those two Sony cameras gave me what I wanted in spades. Their intelligent auto systems were the best I had ever used. Their state of the art stabilization systems were cherries on top.

I do understand the Frankenstein allure however. You can add matte boxes, auxiliary controllers and external LED monitors, Flash storage devices and gawd knows what all to a small camera, then stick it onto a glide rail, Steadicam, dolly or crane and suddenly look like you’re top dog behind a Panavision camera, replete with multiple assistant cameramen to help you set up and operate it all. It’s very Hollywood.

To be fair, it depends on your own use. If you know you’re going to be in a fixed position for a wedding, you’ll want to be on a tripod and you’ll want a good zoom controller on your panning handle. Those would be good and needful accessories (tripod and zoom controller) if that’s what you’re going to be doing with that camera. In my case, even when I was commissioned for a wedding, I’d put another cameraman on that main camera fixed position and cross my fingers. I’d be the one running around hand-held during the live event getting all the other interesting angles and reverse shots so that in end, I’d be able to produce a more memorable edit that looked more like a 6 camera shoot even if there were only 3 cameras.

My approach—in any production situation—is to get as much usable footage from as many different viewpoints, angles and image sizes as possible in the least amount of time—especially since I’m usually alone. That makes editing easy. And for that you need a camera that’s small, light and smart.

If a camera (such as these two mentioned) can take in 96GB without a sweat either by using internal memory or cards, who needs an external recorder? If you can hand-hold it so steady that nobody would know that you’re not on a tripod, who needs a tripod? If it’s got a good quality flip out, rotatable LED screen, who needs an external monitor? If it’s got fast and smart auto focus systems, facial recognition or ‘tap-the-screen-to-keep-this-thing-in-focus’, who needs follow focus controllers? If its stabilization system is so good you can do follow shots are hand-held pans practically as good as a Steadicam, who needs stabilisers and glide rails? And given the time it takes to set all those things up, how many shots could you have shot in the meantime with a camera that can do practically all of those things in your own bare hands?

So that’s why I like them.

Yes, you have know how to handle a camera and you’ve got to practice to get the best results out of a camera like that. I’d much rather pay that price  Granted, you’re going to make mistakes. Sometimes the camera will let you down and focus on the wrong thing when you didn’t realise it in the rush of it all. But if that’s a tiny percentage of a massive accumulation of shots that you were able to get because the camera is not slowing you down, be happy. That’s why god invented editing and you’ll be in pretty good shape with multiple solutions for any problem you may have created or been given in the process. And it’s a lot better and a lot more fun than to having to drag along all that other stuff which doesn’t guarantee a professional result anyway if you’re a lone shooter.

Leave all that to the professional film production companies. They’ve got the time and the money. As a lone shooter, you don’t. You’ve got to get done what those 12 other guys do in a fraction of the time. Time is money. Spend it wisely.

True story: One of the first solo productions I did back in 2008 with a Canon XHA1 tape camera was for a helicopter logging company that had been featured for 3 seasons on the History Channel’s ‘Axmen’ series in the US. They had big film crews out there every day for the better part of 3 years. Once I finished my little documentary for them, in response to a request for a testimonial they said that I had managed to get more done in one day than those Hollywood producers, assistants, cameramen, grips and service people would get done in an entire week.  Who knows, maybe they were exaggerating a tiny bit…but probably not much.

If you’ve got a smart camera, let it be smart and give you more time so you can make more money.

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